21 dead migrants found on Lesvos Islands’ coast, two survivors – the rest still missing!

On Saturday 15th December in the early morning hours the coast guard found 18 corpses of migrant men and one survivor in Thermi, Lesvos. Until now 21 corpses have been found, two persons have survived (one is in Mytilini and one in Turkey) and seven are still missing. The survivor found first on the Greek side informed the authorities that they had started with a ship of 30 migrants from Turkey which capsized on Friday. the authorities try to locate the rest of the migrants in the sea now – among them two women and two children.

Only one 16-year-old survivor has been plucked out of the water and was hospitalised in the island capital Mytilene and another 17-year-old on the Turkish side. The young boy found in the sea near Lesvos told investigators most of those on board the boat which also carried women and children were from Afghanistan with only two persons from Turkey. Greek public television Net said two women and two children had been among the passengers. The group set sail from the western coast of Turkey on Thursday but ran into bad weather that sank their boat during the night, about two miles off Lesvos.

UPDATE: Two of the corpses were recognised by relatives living in Greece and Sweden respectively. One of the is a 17-year-old whose cousin came to recognise him from Naxos where he is living and the other is a 42-year-old whose brother came from Sweden to check for his whereabouts. Through the recognition of the 17-year-old it became known that there has been found another survivor on the Turkish side. The young survivor found in Lesvos left hospital on Tuesday 18 and was transferred to the detention cells of the coast guard.

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Read the Press Release of MSF Mission on Lesvos:

Greece: MSF raises concerns after boat tragedy in Lesvos
Date Published: 19/12/2012 11:10

On the dawn of Friday 14th December, a boat sank near the coast of the Greek island of Lesvos where Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been providing medical and relief assistance to newly arrived migrants and refugees since October. It is believed that 28 migrants were on board. The death toll has so far risen to 21 while the coast guard is still looking for six missing people. There is only one survivor so far, an 18 year old male.

MSF has been addressing urgent medical and humanitarian needs of migrants and refugees arriving at the Greek-Turkish border (Aegean Islands and Evros region) since 2008.

Since last August, when the authorities enhanced border control measures in Evros, MSF teams noticed a dramatic decline in the arrivals of migrants and refugees there. At the same time arrivals at the Aegean Islands increased considerably.

Dangerous crossing

This trend has been a cause of concern as maritime crossings are usually more hazardous, as the recent incidence in Lesvos gravely illustrates.

The majority of newly arriving people over the last few months are Afghan and Syrian nationals, among them many families with young children and vulnerable persons, like pregnant women.

What our team has been witnessing is that they arrive in a state of extreme fatigue and are very frightened because of the difficult conditions experienced on the voyage.

Traumatised children

“The experience of the journey and of the arrival to a new unfamiliar environment seems to be an especially traumatic experience particularly for children,” says Dr Marianthi Papagianni, a member of the MSF team in Lesvos.

“In addition to obvious health risks – primarily upper respiratory tract infections, hypothermia, lack of appropriate food – the impact on children’s mental health is something which should not be underestimated.”

These children might lose a parent on the trip, fall into the water, and witness someone drowning next to them.

“Upon their arrival, they are scared, silent, ready to attach themselves to the first person that will give them smile,” says Mrs Papagianni.

Medical action

MSF tries to respond to the immediate medical and humanitarian needs of this population in cooperation with local actors and authorities. An MSF team consisting of one doctor, two interpreters and one administrator is present on the island providing medical and basic relief assistance to newly arriving migrants and refugees.

MSF is also supporting with medical supplies and basic relief items people arriving in other islands through a network of cooperating local actors.

Source MSF